previews

  • “I, I, I, I, I, I, I, KATHY ACKER”

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
    The Mall
    May 1–July 21

    Curated by Ifeanyi Awachie, Richard Birkett, Steven Cairns, and Rosalie Doubal

    Kathy Acker (1947–1997) had a difficult relationship with London. The city’s literati made her reputation as an avant-garde star and then set out to destroy it. She collaborated successfully with the ICA, except in regard to its production of her play Lulu Unchained (1985), from which she tried to withdraw her name when the director rewrote the script. This spring, that same institution returns obliquely to the controversy, hosting the first exhibition dedicated to Acker in the UK. Although best known for her fiction writing, she had a lifelong connection to the art world and often turned to drawing, photography, sound, music, theater, and video as alternate modes of expression. In each, she connected formal questions to more visceral, erotic, and political ones. This show situates sixty pieces Acker made between 1973 and 1997, including her novels, recorded performances, and personal archives, within the aesthetic movements of their time and supplements them with works by artists and writers still under her influence today.